The Price of Freedom
Posted on Sun Oct 18th, 2020 @ 11:07am by Captain Phoenix Lalor & Lieutenant Sapphire Morgan & Lieutenant Serenity Triannth & Lieutenant JG Josephine Carlyle & Ensign Nerinath zh'Rhilror & Avalon & Commander Gary Taylor & Commander Anje Brett & Commander Aurelia Holmes & Commander Arrianna Salannis an Vantar & Lieutenant Commander Gallia Norris & Lieutenant Commander Turak & Lieutenant Commander Sthilg & Major Azhul Naxea & Lieutenant Kara Hoffman & Lieutenant S'hib & Lieutenant Olivia (Carter) Voight & Lieutenant Alicia Kelea-Salik & Lieutenant Issac Drake & Ensign Miraj Derani & Ensign Ryan Kade III & Lieutenant Commander Savar cha'Salik hei-Surak Talek-sen-deen & Lieutenant Commander Jessica 'Valkyrie' Vaii & Lieutenant Scott Gregory & Consul Imik S'Niohun & Consul Vanessa Alcean an Vantar & Lieutenant JG M'Tuuri Sh'iss & Lieutenant JG Roger Moxton & Ensign T'Kek & Warrant Officer Man'darr & Senior Chief Petty Officer Fernando De La Rosa & Sergeant Heather De La Rosa
SEASON 4: Episode 1: Know Thy Self!
Location: Main Shuttlebay
Timeline: MD-6 - Mid to late afternoon
2747 words - 5.5 OF Standard Post Measure
Rows upon rows of caskets lined the shuttlebay. This was the price of fighting tyrants. Each casket had a name on it, either containing a body or in the case there was no body, a uniform with a two-rank promotion.
Row upon roll, the crew visited each casket, giving their respects to their fallen. But this was more personal to the ship, the USS Elysium. Fighting the Mirror Universe Tyrants had brought the crew together. This was now a family wearing the same uniform.
Arrianna held up a padd and began saying names. "Crewman Calvin Robbins, Crewman James Phillips, Lieutenant Monica Riley, Ensign T'Vel, Petty Officer Second Class Shakars V'Nak......"
Gary stood at attention as Arri read the names of those killed in the battle with their mirror universe selves. Lia stood beside him as Arri continued to read name after name. His face was a mask. Jaws tightly clenched together to stop from sobbing. Eyes lowered to hide tears. Each name was like a knife in his heart. These weren't strangers. These were friends, family and the hurt would go on for a long long time. He wondered how many of those on the list would be alive if he had fought?
Along side Gary, Lia listened as the list of names grew longer and longer. This was her fault, she had stood down when the MU enemy had shown Phoenix being tortured. Had she been wrong? This list said she had been, how many would still be alive if she had done her job?
Phoenix stood silent by the rest of her senior staff, though she noted that the two they had rendezvoused with at DS16 were not present. No mater that they had been on personal leave at the time of their last ... mission. Yes Mission worked. She gave a yeoman a pointed look and the Yeoman slipped out to contact the Commanders who were missing. Phoenix took a deep breath as the names continued to roll out.
Standing at attention, Turak listened to the names of the lost being read. After about five minutes of this, he realized that while his hands were at his sides, he had clinched them into fists and he was tightening them with each name read. He hadn't realized until now that he was mad, mad at the senseless loss of life. Unfortunately nothing would bring them back, not even trying to get revenge - instead, Turak promised himself that he would keep on going and fighting evil where ever he found it to honor the memories of the fallen...
Alicia stood alongside Savar, having attended funerals like this before she knew the level of emotions would be sky high even more so given the circumstances. She had therefore elected to wear a neural inhibitor for the duration of the funeral to keep the emotions of the crew from overwhelming her senses. Instead she simply observed the body language of those around her, not that she needed to to know how everyone would be feeling.
Savar stood silently next to Alicia. he didn't need to be a telepath to know what the crew was feeling. he could see it etched into every face, the anger, the sorrow the overwhelming loss of life. The crew would recover, he was sure of that. However it would take time and patience before the crew was whole again.
Heather stood further back with Fernando, she too had elected to use an inhibitor for the duration of the ceremony. She held onto Fernando’s hand, she hadn’t been a member of the crew long but she knew about loss and how difficult it was most of her previous crew were either still missing or dead.
Fernando stood with Heather, her hand in his as the names were read. Each one a knife in his heart. No more laughing at stupid jokes, or just goofing around telling stories about family, work or even coworkers. The healing process was going to be long and painful.
Imik stood alone off to one side, she had felt the need to be here. To show her Elysium friends that she cared, but not to intrude upon their grief. As the names were listed she allowed herself to picture those she knew, and more than that she remembered her two Marines and the one who gave his life for the other and hers indirectly.
Drake stood among the survivors. His release from medical attested to the outstanding care the medical staff provided. But he was going to take this personal. Most of his department were butchered in the attack, Issac could not or ever except that loss. Looking around in the formation he saw a strong sense of hate forming. Quiet and damaged souls screamed for revenge silently as they stood in the ranks. The loss of crew was staggering. His own grief was muted harshly, nothing could be done now to bring them back to their loved ones. For some there would never be closure just deep loss.
S'hib stood as far back as he could, unable to look anyone in the eye after learning what his counterpart had done to the crew. out of a sort of penance, he had cut his mane down to the root, the once long flowing pride of any Sequus had been removed, a punishment on his homeworld for anyone caught having committed any serious crimes. "I shouldn't be here..." He said quietly to himself, knowing all he was doing was reminding everyone of what his mirror had done to them, especially the Captain.
Anje, angered beyond words, had been in the gym instead of the funeral, and she was fighting mad. Pounding the heavy bag in the gym like it had stolen from her, with Gallia moving the bag as she did. "Ach, dammit!" Gallia swore as she shook her hand, she had been hit in Anje's last flurry, "Dammit, Anje. I'm not responsible for what we lost in the mirror universe!"
Anje, wiping sweat from her eyes, as she worked the bag stopped a minute and shouted "Then who is?" She said, "Who the fuck is, Gallia? Tell me that! They push into our universe, they attack us, we do nothing? They come across the border, with impunity, attack our people, kill them, and we do NOTHING!"
"Aright. Aright." Gallia said, "They come across and it looks like wa're doin' nothin', aye. But it's not like that, we put them tyrants in their place good, lass."
A Yeoman appeared. "Commanders, your absence has been noted by the Captain." he said.
"Okay, we'll be there." Anje said.
"Aye, we'll be along directly." Gallia nodded, turning to leave as she did.
Tag Gallia and Anje
"Ensign Deacon" The name rolled out from Arri and Phoenix clenched her fists and bit her lip. The ensign the Mirror S'hib had killed in front of her.
More names came some Arrianna knew some she was not familiar with but then another name was spoken one of the MIA's
"Petty Officer 3rd Class Morin Tahlia, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kincaid.....
Kara stood solemn and quiet at the back of the room. ~Damn.~ She thought to herself. The price on the ship and crew was indeed heavy today. All brought together to mourn and give thanks to their colleagues, their friends and family who had been lost.
Arrianna spoke more names before turning the padd over to the next volunteer to speak the names Arrianna took her place with the crew.
Gary stepped up and took the PaDD from Arri without a word. He turned to face the crew as he began to read the names of the fallen. His voice strong and clear. "Lieutenant Timothy Anderson, Lieutenant Commander Julia Verne, Petty Officer Carol Sumter....."
Issac hobbled forward and read the names of the Four crewmen of his department. He spoke in a reverent tone. Drake knew these people and the families they left behind. The hard pains he felt in his chest filled without pride. Just loss.
The gorn MD wearing his as usual uncomfortable formal gear stepped forward. His staff had been luckily medical having only.... No they weren't luckily no one should have had to die because of those monsters. " Ensssign Jilla Otrobu, ensssign Kedzeh Modor, ensssign Ime Nogem... his reptilian voice read slowly and calmly " and warrant officer Imo Ukica."
Naxea, dressed flawlessly in her Marine Dress Uniform, having gotten her normal appearance back, took the PaDD and read the names of the fallen Marines, maintaining a neutral expression as she did so. "Gunnery Sergeant B'ora, Staff Sergeant Deanna Williams, Sergeant Yoshi Takahashi, Sergeant Christopher Lopez, Sergeant Jon Bisset..." Several names later, Naxea came to a very familiar name, pausing as she did so to keep her voice from cracking "...and Lance Corporal Durak." The young Cardassian who had earned her trust and respect and any of those who he served with despite her initial hatred of him. She had heard how he had sacrificed himself to save Warrant Officer Man'darr's life. Fifty-four Marines out of one-hundred had given their lives--over half of her detachment had been killed. In her eyes, she had failed her Marines as she solemnly stepped back into line.
Jess brought four fighters around towards the aft of the Elysium in view of the shuttlebay, they began to approach in view from the bay. The second fighter suddenly pulled up and veered away. A missing man formation. Jess spoke into her coms. "Beautiful, Tiger seven."
"Thank you, Commander."
Once the names were done being announced Arrianna and several of the crew began to lift the caskets that possessed anti-grav units and then began to gently push them out of the bay towards the force field. The field fluxurated as each one exited the bay.
Miraj watched them leave. She'd not really had much time to get to know everyone yet, so she couldn't share the grief. The people she knew well had suffered, but survived. She'd got off lightly. "Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive no farther tides," she murmured to herself, the words of the old poem the closest thing she had to a prayer. "The sheets and yards hang empty, the glass gives up no prize. From squall and storm and tempest, you shall evermore be free. Sail now to rest and freedom, with no grave but sea."
S'hib had specifically moved to Ensign Deacon's casket, slowly pushing the hovering modified torpedo towards the end of the bay, mindful to take every step forward silently, a painfully slow process for any Sequus, especially on the metal decking.
But, silence was another tradition of Sequus funerals, one he intended to see through as he marched forward one slow teetering step at a time until the casket hummed through into the vacuum of space.
Phoenix stepped up beside S'hib and placed a hand on his shoulder as the casket vanished into the void. She said nothing, just stood there.
A single yellow dress uniform stood in the back, against the far wall. Ryan was watching as each of the caskets made their way through, fizzling visibly through the event horizon. He wanted to pitch in, somehow, but he also knew it would be pointless, maybe even rude. He hoped his presence would be enough, if anyone needed the support. His eyes trailed to his crossed ankles on the floor, embarrassed and saddened.
Imik spotted another lone person, she silently moved around the rear of the mourners to reach him. "You should not be alone at this time, may I stand with you?" She smiled politely and waited for him to answer.
His head lifted when he heard her voice. Ryan wasn't sure, at first, if her species had any social norms he needed to know. He blinked to clear his head and decided to just reply normally. "Of course." He tried a smile but missed the mark.
"You feel an outsider, much as I do. This I can feel and see, but look beyond this grief. What do you see?" She placed a hand on the mans arm, "You are one of this vessels crew, and now one of their family. Unlike me, you are a Human and so can join that family". She removed her hand and stood watching the ceremony, "They and you will survive this horror, Humans have a strong survival instinct. Plus you willingness to join together when the circumstances require it, never forget that".
Ryan cleared his vision with a few blinks, a tentative glance back at the proceedings. “Maybe.” he uttered quietly. A small lock of dark brown drifted near his eyes as he turned his head back to her, focussed on her words. “You feel like an outsider here?”
Imik nodded, "I am an outsider here, I am Ojnas". She continued to watch the ceremony, "But you are not an outsider, you are Human". She looked at the man and smiled, "At times like these, we Ojnas have different ways. I can only stand with you and offer my help, but your own people will need each other. So please join them, never stand alone".
"Thank you." The effort was made, just like before, but the smile was paper-thin. "I know what you're trying to do, but it's fine." He kept her gaze, "They're supporting each other in the only way they know how. And so am I..." His tone was sombre, his lips briefly compressing as he thought out his words. "This is as close as I should be. Maybe, with time and effort, I'll earn the right to get that close."
She glanced at the ground, "Did you not fight to gain their freedom and your own? If you did, then you have earned that right". Imik looked back up, "I fought with two Marines, one of which died to save his friend. But still I stand alone, you helped to free them you have no need to stand alone."
Despite himself, the security officer almost chuckled. Their differing views on what constituted camaraderie clashed in contrasting colors. He sighed, "It seems we are at an impasse." He leaned off the wall for the first time, still watching from a distance. "Perhaps we can talk about our differences in detail, at a better venue." He extended an olive branch, as well as a gesturing hand, "You busy later this evening?"
Imik turned to face the man, "As it happens, no I am not. I suggest 20:00 hrs in ten forward, we will proceed from there if you wish". A smile crossed her lips, in attempting to lift another spirits. She had lifted her own, and would meet this stranger to continue their talk.
Naxea watched as the Marine Burial Detail guided the last Marine casket through the field and returning to their original position, an emotionless cast over her face. "Honor Guard! Attention!" she called to seven Marines dressed in their dress uniforms, holding polished antique M-14 rifles, loaded with blanks. "Port Arms! Ready! Aim! Fire!" The seven rifles discharged in unison. "Ready! Aim! Fire!" she repeated as the rifles of the guard reported once again. "Ready Aim! Fire!" The honor guard fired the last volley. "Order Arms! Burial Detail and Honor Guards! Dismissed!" She watched the solemn postures of her Marines file out slowly. "I'm sorry," she whispered to them barely loud enough to be heard by herself before she turned and exited the shuttlebay, alone.
Olivia stood off to one side with several other medical staff members silently watching as the names of the dead were read one by one. She knew that it was going to take awhile for things to get back to normal to some degree. Everyone would mourn in their own way. Olivia had noticed that S’hib had cut his mane short and she made a mental note to herself to check up on him later.
The chief MD stayed and stared at the slowly disappearing tubes as his staff began to filter out. In his mind, he was reading the prayer to the dead hoping that all of those who had perished would find a guide to help them to the hunting grounds. " Look out for them Gedesss. " he said softly hoping his daughter would hear on the other side.
Arrianna watched as the last coffin left the bay. "I should have never convinced the Commander to stand down. No, I will bear this shame forever. We should have fought."